Being good has worked out very badly for Lady Olivia Archer. All she has to show for four seasons on the marriage mart is the nickname Prissy Missy. Her prospects are so bleak that her parents have betrothed her to a stranger with a dire reputation. If Phinneas Cole—aka The Mad Baron—wants a biddable bride, perhaps Olivia can frighten him off by breaking every ladylike rule.
Phinn has admired Olivia’s poise and refinement from afar…qualities that appear to have vanished now that they are officially engaged. This Olivia is flirtatious, provocative, and wickedly irresistible. She’s not at all the woman he bargained for, yet she’s the only one he wants.
He’s determined to woo her. She’s determined to resist. But Olivia is discovering there’s nothing so appealing as a fiancé who’s mad, bad, and dangerously seductive…
Right off the bat, I liked Phinn better then Olivia for the most part. Olivia spent so much time dancing around communication with him that it got to be tiresome. Her attempts at "wild behavior" to deter him got more ludicrous and quite frankly horribly reckless as the book went on. And I'm not entirely sure why. He did not, despite her belief to the contrary, act in a threatening manner. Oh he didn't bother denying the murder charges, but he believed he was the one who caused the murders, even if it wasn't directly.
And while I appreciate the fact Prue was trying to look out for Olivia, she was doing more harm then good.
Really what it boiled down to was that I was finding it hard to see what Phinn saw in Olivia and vice versa. Olivia spends the better part of the book convinced that he's going to kill her and rarely seems to soften towards him. Phinn, who seemed much more cerebral and in his head (which I appreciate in a hero), seemed awfully determined to remain aloof from Olivia. Even with his reputation I would have thought he'd be able to find some plain miss or merchant's daughter to marry if all he wanted was a quiet, proper wife. His insistence at courting Olivia as her behavior grew more reckless didn't speak well of his intellect...
At times the book was thoroughly entertaining; I found Phinn and Olivia to be at their best when discussing his projects. Though she was less then knowledgeable Olivia's interest in what he was doing was enthusiastic (when she let herself just be). It was good to see Emma again, I do think she wanted what was best for Olivia and she did counsel wisely (where as Prue was just...well in hindsight it made sense but at the time it was just awful).
As a Rodale fan this won't be as light-hearted or humorous as her previous books. Olivia is just too frustrating and the circles Rodale has them go in before they wind up together get annoying.